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Fed: Australians feared killed in Jakarta bombings

By Sandra O'Malley and Nick Ralston
Fri Jul 17 20:19:03 EST 2009

CANBERRA, July 17 AAP - Trade official Craig Senger is believed to be among two Australians feared killed in the deadly bomb blasts that rocked two Jakarta hotels on Friday, claiming at least eight lives.

Mr Senger's uncle Geoff Lazarus told AAP that the family had received the news from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The government wasn't immediately confirming the death but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was due to hold a press conference at 1930 (AEST).

There are reports there may be at least one other Australian missing, feared dead.

In addition to the eight deaths, which was revised down from nine, more than 50 people have been injured - including two Australians - when bombs went off at the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels on Friday morning.

Mr Lazarus said the family was very upset about the news.

Mr Senger, an Austrade trade commissioner, was at the Marriott Hotel on business at the time of the blasts.

"On behalf of the family, I would like to say they are very upset," Mr Lazarus said.

He hit out at Australian authorities for letting its staff frequent the international hotels, which are known terrorist targets.

"As his uncle, I would like to say I am gobsmacked that Australian security officials would allow trade and embassy officials to go to these five-star hotels that are known terrorist targets," Mr Lazarus said.

The explosions, which occurred within minutes of each other, are the first major attack against western interests in Indonesia since the October 2005 Bali bombings and the first since Mr Rudd became prime minister.

A visibly-shaken Mr Rudd described the perpetrators as cowards and murderers.

"Any terrorist attack anywhere is an attack on us all," he told reporters.

"Any terrorist attack on our friends in Indonesia is an attack on our neighbours.

"Any terrorist attack is an act of cowardice. It is an act of murder. It is a barbaric act that violates the fundamental principles of human decency."

New Zealand man Timothy David Mackay, who has been working in Indonesia since 2004, was also among those killed.

Indonesian police say several suspects in the bombing of the JW Marriott were staying at the hotel.

Major General Wahyono said the suspects stayed on the 18th floor of the hotel where undetonated explosives were found after the earlier bombings.

A third explosion was reported near a shopping complex in the north of the Indonesian capital several hours later, but police later denied initial reports it was also a bomb, saying the blast in the Muara Angke area was caused by a faulty car battery.

Following a meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet on Friday afternoon, the Australian government set up an emergency taskforce to deal with the terrorist threat.

"An emergency taskforce has been located within the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra, as has been the practice in previous terrorist attacks involving Australians abroad," Mr Rudd said.

"This taskforce brings together all government agencies involved in counter-terrorism relevant to these attacks. That emergency taskforce is now at work."

Canberra immediately offered whatever assistance it could to the Indonesian government.

Federal police have been in touch with their Indonesian counterparts to offer assistance with forensics, victim identification and counter terrorism.

Health authorities are offering to help treat burn victims.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reviewed its Indonesian travel advisory in the aftermath of the blasts, urging travellers to reconsider their plans.

The alert, however, has not been upgraded.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts but attention is focusing on Jemmaah Islamiah (JI).

Terrorism expert Professor Clive Williams, from the Australian National University, says JI seemed the most likely suspect, specifically a cell led by Noordhin Mohammed Top.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull offered his sympathy to the victims of attacks, which he described as a "vicious assault" on the values of free societies.

"The recent re-election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signified an explicit repudiation by the people of Indonesia of those who stand for religious intolerance and violent extremism," he said in a statement.

"Tragically, today's bombings indicate there are those who remain unwilling to accept the desire of the Indonesian people for a free, open and tolerant society."